MY daughter goes to a Catholic high school in the Newcastle area and I have been contacting the principal regarding the need to strongly encourage students to wear a mask due to the inability for kids to socially distance. According to my daughter they have packed hallways every day and bullying from other students when she has worn a mask. The principal of her school says "they are not discouraging masks, but will only go by the health advice".
The latest health advice is that children are less likely to contract and spread the virus and thus don't need to socially distance. (See: https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/industry-guidelines/education-and-training-providers)
Unfortunately, with the most recent case at St Pius X High School, I believe it is most important that schools start to take a proactive step in protecting the students and teachers and start to strongly encourage if not enforce the children and staff to wear masks independently of health recommendations. I see no reason for our school, and others, not to lead the way in this decision.
I work in the medical profession and I have to wear a mask all day, every day, to protect myself and my patients. I am not alone in the fear of my child contracting the virus. I have the support of many parents at our school. My daughter's mental health suffered greatly with the last lockdown and the principal has given me no choice but to have her at home again.
Name and suburb provided
Big danger from 'small risk'
IT'S a question of trust. Ammonium nitrate is "a fairly stable substance" when stored safely. Our political leaders have reassured us that its storage on Kooragang passes all proper standards. However, an industrial explosives expert, Tony Richards, informed readers of the Herald (5/8) that "it doesn't matter how small the risk is, the consequences are catastrophic when you are dealing with something that can turn solid iron mountains into mounds of rubble".
So can we trust Orica to abide by the standards? Unfortunately, this corporation has a questionable safety record. In 2011, a NSW Upper House committee hearing into Orica's leak of hexavalent chromium was told the company had breached its licence 130 times over a decade. North Stockton residents were not told about these leaks of hexavalent chromium and ammonia from the Orica plant until days later.
IN THE NEWS:
- Newcastle Knights duo Starford To'a and Simi Sasagi have been cleared of a COVID-19 "bubble breach"
- Kelios Downer urges pedestrians and drivers to follow the road rules around the Newcastle light rail
- Driver, 26, dies in two-vehicle collision at New Lambton
- Coronavirus: Thousands of Newcastle residents tested for COVID and no new cases identified
- Traces of COVID-19 found in sewage from suburbs including Dudley, Charlestown, Jesmond, Mayfield and Carrington
- NSW reports highest COVID numbers in almost four months as schools outbreak grows
Orica had three chemical spills in as many months and was also responsible for a release of arsenic into the Hunter River. In the same year, Orica's then plant at Botany in southern Sydney released mercury vapours which exceeded the licensed levels. This raises the question of transparency. Can we trust our political representatives to reveal any problems being encountered, or that they will even know?
My experience of attempting to get information from government agencies has worn down my reserves of trust. Our elected representatives should be demanding that this facility be moved well away from residential areas, no matter how small the risk.
Christine Everingham, Newcastle East
Losing trust in council
THE Lake Macquarie CC Bath Street proposal, released to the media on August 6, looks great, until you read the "fine print". The council has reneged on part of their motion, in September 2019, to defer the tower proposal. That motion included the rezoning of the site from "operational" to "community". This rezoning is what the Toronto Foreshore Protection Group has been working for over two years. They had no plans as to what should go on the site, only that the community should be fully consulted at every stage.
The Bath Street site is part of the Toronto foreshore and needs to be included in the Toronto Foreshore Park. Then the master plan for the Foreshore Park, which is taking a long time to prepare, will cover all of the foreshore historically available to the community. Again the council has ignored the community's principal desire. Again we have cause to mistrust the activities of the council. Again what the council is now offering is not what they said they would do. Again we mistrust the council - in future they could decide to use our assets for their purposes if the site stays "operational".
Wendy Davidson, Toronto
Parking mad at price change
I WOULD like to congratulate Westfield Kotara for keeping this secret. Having visited Westfield Kotara to have coffee and a shop with a friend last Thursday, I was amazed to find so many parking spots available. Prior to COVID-19 and their easing of parking restrictions, the free parking was for three hours, which is a good timeframe to have a coffee and/or lunch and a bit of retail therapy. But what I did not know or had been made aware of via media or advertising that the time of the free parking had been decreased to two hours and charges increased for periods over these first two hours - eg for half hour after the two-hour free parking it is now $6, we were there for two hours 15 minutes.
I know that they have to make profits, but they are not endearing shoppers to go there in the first place. How many people have found out about the reduced free parking the same way that my friend and I did? When I contacted the centre via intercom when trying to leave I was told that the parking had always been two hours free since paid parking had been introduced. In stating that this person told me that I could join the Westfield Kotara VIP program which will allow one to park for four hours - this is good to know after the event. At least Charlestown is still three hours free and five hours if you are a senior/pensioner card holder.
Sandra Harris, Georgetown
Koalas' friend or foe?
A PARLIAMENTARY committee recently found that without "urgent action", koalas will be extinct in NSW by 2050. The main reason is habitat destruction for farming, housing and other economic activity such as the expansion of the Brandy Hill quarry recently approved by the Planning Assessment Commission.
Gladys Berejiklian has described herself as the koalas' friend. I have some questions for the Premier.
MORE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
If you are the koalas' friend, why are you and your government doing nothing to stop the destruction of habitat that will inevitably lead to their extinction? If in fact you are not the koalas' friend, why are you saying you are? Why don't you instead say something consistent with not being their friend, and therefore honest, such as this:
"Nothing is more important than economic growth, including koalas. If protecting their habitat interferes with economic growth, we won't protect it. Koalas may then go extinct as a result, but so be it. It will be worth it to have a really big economy, with lots of money sloshing around in it, and lots of people getting rich. Well ... some anyway.
"Dominic feels very strongly about this. So do the Property Council of NSW, the NSW Farmers Federation, the Nationals and the Centre for Independent Studies. And they know best - so as far as I'm concerned, that's the end of the matter. Anyway, there'll always be a few koalas at Taronga Zoo. Even though it's a prime development location ..."
I'm happy to receive the Premier's reply via these pages.
Michael Hinchey, New Lambton
COAL mining is extremely profitable for its mainly foreign shareholders. It digs up a product that, when burnt, adds to global warming. Global warming contributes to drought and bushfires in Australia. Coal mining employs few Australians, and pays minimal taxes to Australia. It provides little lasting benefit to all Australians. But it does leave in its wake, huge scars on our landscape that will never be healed. In these circumstances, why shouldn't the giant foreign miner, Glencore, pay more to ship coal out of Newcastle? ("New chapter in port brawl", Herald, 8/8).
Geoff Black, Caves Beach
ONE has to feel for Australia's coal workers. Perhaps heartened by noises from the federal government about a coal and gas recovery, they now find that the price of coal is so low that mines are being closed and workers' jobs at risk ("Major Hunter coal producer Glencore in the red as coal prices fall and volumes shrink", Herald 7/8). They are being misled which is unfair. If the CFMEU genuinely cared about the wellbeing of Australia's coal workers, it would be pushing governments to fund transition programs to cleaner, safer, more sustainable jobs in other industries, or appropriate redundancies, as was done in Germany.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn, Vic
FAIR dinkum, what are these people thinking? We can drive past sporting fields, schools, churches, hotels and clubs and see mass gatherings, no distancing and total disregard for anyone but themselves. What must happen is all citizens must at all time carry ID and authorities must elevate fines to at least $20,000 as "Wayne Wonderful" copped from the NRL. It is obvious these people consider themselves above the law and are thumbing their noses to the general populous. It's pathetic that Australians have sunk to the new and sad low with attitude and it is up to the authorities to stand up and enforce tougher and harsher penalties.
Dennis Crampton, Swansea
OVER the last few months we have seen the world chop and change in people's daily lives, but thing I noticed personally is the lack of government action in promoting tourism in NSW. With the other states closing their borders I can't think of a better time to promote the tourism industry as a whole, but sadly we don't seem to be getting much information from the tourism authorities about what is open and what is not. Here is some advice for the government; how about you start to spend some of the taxpayers' money on advertising instead of you wasting the money on endless enquiries into issues that are useless?
Philip Carter, Metford
I WONDER if those in charge of minding nitrate at Kooragang have immunity from lightning strikes?